Unilever, Nestle in close fight to acquire Horlicks from GSK
28 November 2018
Unilver plc is reported to be vying with Nestle to acquire GlaxoSmithKline plc's malt-based health drink brand, Horlicks that could give a boost to the companies’ nutrition business in India, even as some reports claimed the Europe food giant Nestle is in the lead position for acquiring the popular health drink brand.
Nutrition business in India children's Horlicks will extend the Swiss giant's dominance in India's processed food market.
Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever plc is reported to have emerged as the leading bidder for GSK’s Horlicks nutrition business in India, reports quoting two people familiar with the situation said.
Nestle has been in talks with GlaxoSmithKline India's consumer healthcare division that includes the Horlicks brand, which is the dominant children's malt-based health drink in India.
GSK is looking at carrying out a strategic review and expects to conclude that by year-end, according to some reports.
After the acquisition, Nestle is unlikely to merge GSK with its own India subsidiary whose major brands include market leaders like the Maggi noodles and other products, according to Economic Times. Nestle's own Milo and Nesquick brands will have to compete with Horlicks if the acquisition goes through.
Horlicks, whose sales topped $700 million last year with a 44 per cent market share of nutritional drinks, is the main attraction in GSK's India business, valued at $4.2 billion.
GSK, which owns 72.5 per cent of Indian business GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd, and Unilever were in exclusive talks, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the sales process.
GSK exited its Horlicks franchise in the UK last year but has held on to the brand in India where it has a special place as a nutritional supplement for children.
Global food giants have been eyeing the emerging market in India because of its growth potential when compared to China with a comparable population. Indian processed food market is now only one-fifth of the Chinese market but growing income profiles are changing consumption patterns.